My daughter is into all things Minecraft. We were decorating for Halloween and talking about how awesome it would be to have a huge Minecraft spider on our front porch. I couldn't find any instructions on how to make one online, but I did find a site with tiny printable Minecraft paper models...I began thinking about how I might scale them up. I started collecting cardboard and got to work!
Step 1: Gather Supplies
You will need:
- pencils & sharpies
- ruler or straight edge (a t-square makes the job easier if you have one)
- box cutter, x-acto knife, scissors
- hot glue gun, masking tape
- black acrylic paint, brushes
- spider face template, red plastic sheet for eyes (I used 3-ring binder dividers made of colored plastic from the dollar store)
- LED light source (I used a stick on closet light I had on hand, but you can also use a dollar store flashlight)
Step 2: The Spider Head
I had 15cm x 15cm box on hand, so I used this for the head and scaled the rest of the spider around it. If you don't have one you can create one fairly easily from scratch, by transferring the dimensions from the box pattern to a sheet of cardboard.
First, you'll want to glue the box bottom closed, but leave the top open. Tape the spider eyes template on one of the sides, then use your x-acto knife to to cut out the eyes.
Step 3: Spider Abdomen
Trim a piece of cardboard to 84cm x 62cm. Use the T-square to transfer the spider abdomen dimensions to the cardboard, then cut the shape out.
Score the cardboard on the interior fold lines. I used a knife to cut halfway through the cardboard, then burnished the line by rubbing the back of the knife or a marker cap over the scored line repeatedly. This slightly crushes the cardboard on either side so that the joint will fold easily.
Use the hot glue gun to join all the sides except for the 16cm x 19cm flap. This will be the back of the spider, and we will need to use this "butt flap" later when we assemble the spider.
Step 4: Spider Legs
Transfer the spider leg dimensions to the cardboard making sure the long side goes with the grain of the corrugation flutes inside the cardboard. This will make it easier to fold.
Cut the leg pattern out, then Score and burnish the fold lines. Fold and glue the long seam closed, then glue the square flap closed. This is the tip of the spider leg.
Repeat this process until you have 8 spider legs....
*This is going to take a while, so you might want to have an audiobook or movie to play in the background.
Step 5: Join the Spider Legs Together
Now you are ready to join the legs together. Take 4 legs and position them so the open end is nearest you. On each leg make 2 cuts (about 8cm long) parallel to the edge folds. Flip the spider leg over and make the same cuts on the opposite side. Pinch the two cut sides together and hot glue them at the tip holding them together until the glue sets.
Turn your 4 legs on their sides so that the end looks like an I-beam. Now take your knife and trim some of the excess cardboard away from the top and bottom so that the ends form a wedge shape. This will make your spider legs splay out at a nice angle. I trimmed most of the excess off the front and back legs, but left a little bit more on the two inside legs.
When the splay you want has been achieved, use the hot glue gun to glue the wedge shape ends of the 4 legs together. Hold the ends tightly together while the glue cools and sets (30 sec.-1 min.) Turn over and add more glue to any overlapping edges and reinforce at the top where the wedges meet with more glue. Don't move until the glue is completely set. Repeat this process for the second set of legs.
Step 6: The Underbelly
Next, cut a piece of cardboard 50cm x13cm, making sure the corrugated flutes run parallel to the shorter side. Mark and score the cardboard as shown. You will end up with one 10cm flap, which will be tucked inside when the rectangular shape is folded up - this will strengthen the shape and provide a larger surface area when gluing the shape closed.
Glue the shape closed and set it aside for now.
Step 7: Constructing the Center Support "spine"
The legs will attach on either side This central support "spine." One end will slot into the back of the head and the other end will slot into the abdomen.
First cut a piece of cardboard 36cm x 36cm. Transfer the lines as shown in the center support drawing. Draw the center line, making sure it runs in the same direction as the corrugation flutes. The center line is for reference only (do not score). Score the lines on either side of the center line (the dashed lines in the diagram) on the front of the cardboard. Score the second sets of lines (the dotted lines in the diagram) on the back side of the cardboard. This will ensure the folds bend in the correct direction. Follow the folds as shown in the cross section at the bottom of the center support drawing. Use hot glue to join the touching surfaces of the to form an I-beam shape.
Step 8: Attach the Underbelly to the Spine
Measure 8cm from one end of the center spine and align the underbelly as shown, marking the line of the line at the front and back of the underbelly. Then, use your knife to cut away the cardboard surface in front of the underbelly, (you are trimming off the top bar of the I beam).
Repeat the process for the area you marked behind the I beam.
Finally, glue the underbelly to the remaining surface.
Step 9: Make the Entry Points & Do a Test Fit
Turn the 'spine' over so that the underbelly rests on the table. Then, move the abdomen so that the closed end opposite the 'butt flap' abuts the longer side of the spine. Make sure the spine is centered, then trace the t-shaped spine outline on the abdomen. Next, use your knife to cut out the t-shaped slot. Trim any excess cardboard from the slot so that the spine fits into the opening.
Repeat the process to create the slot in the back of the head, then insert the opposite (short) end of the spine.
You will want to test fit the legs before you glue anything down. You can slide the abdomen back to allow space for the splayed legs. Once you have a good fit mark the placement of the head and abdomen on the spine.
Step 10: Attach the Legs to Center Support
Separate the spider so you have more room to maneuver when attaching the legs. The legs will be fitted under the t of the spine and above the abdomen. Mine was a tight fit and I had to be quick to insert the legs after applying the hot glue. Once the legs are in you can dribble more hot glue into the joint to add strength. After you attach both sets of legs you are ready to attach the head abdomen.
Step 11: Attach the Abdomen
When you reinsert the spine into the abdomen you will notice there is a lot of wiggle. I fixed this by bracing the spine inside the abdomen (this is one reason we left the 'butt flap' open) Transfer the brace pattern to a 6cm x 24cm piece of cardboard, then fold and glue the triangle. Test the fit, making sure the brace fits snugly between the top of the "T" and the roof of the abdomen, before gluing the brace in. I found it to be a tight squeeze using the glue gun inside the box, and the results weren't pretty! No one will see it though, so I finished it off by reinforcing it with a few extra gobs of hot glue. When the glue has set you are finished here! Leave the 'butt flap' open for now.
Step 12: Attach the Head
Insert the spine into the slot you made in the back of the head. The head was a little wobbley, just like the abdomen was before I braced it. There was a 3cm gap between the top of the spine's 't' and the roof of the closed flap. I cut a 3cm wide strip out of some scrap cardboard, and was planning on making a triangle wedge similar to the one in the abdomen, but I realized bending the strip in a zigzag shape would work just as well. Hot glue your zig zag brace to the top of the spine, then add a few gobs of glue to the top of the zig zag and to the inside of the flap and fold the flap over. The head should feel fairly secure now, but don't seal up the rest of the opening on top of the head yet.
Now your spider is starting to shape up!
Step 13: Shoring-up & Finishing the Seams
This is your last chance to shore-up the structure before you begin putting the finishing touches to your spider. Use your hot glue gun to reinforce any accessible joints on the outside of the spider pay special attention to where the head and abdomen attach to the central support. I went through quite a few few glue sticks strengthening the exterior joints.
I began painting right after this, but soon realized I was not happy with the appearance of some of the joints - You could see some imperfections and the corrugated edges in some of the joints. Masking tape turned out to be a quick fix! Use masking tape to cover the long seam on the legs and any other places where you want a more finished looking seam. It looks great once it's painted!
*When went to buy more tape I found they make it in black. Not strictly necessary, but it is nice to have as it saves you a coat of paint.
Step 14: Paint Your Spider
Finish painting your spider, employing child labor when available. Cheap foam brushes work well and are great for squishing paint into all the nooks and crannies.
Use the masking tape method to cover any large gaps for a more seamless look. The spider pictured is flipped belly up, and I am covering the gap where the legs join.
Step 15: Attach the String
When displaying the spider I had planned for it to be hanging from a string attached from the porch roof to the spider butt and thought it would be partially supported in a web. Because of its weight one attachment point was not enough. I had to adjust my plans and have him climbing over the porch rail, secured by wire. The string web was still useful, as it held the back end up so the spider tilted correctly.
I attached the string to make it look like the spider was spinning a web (this why we did not seal up the 'butt flap'). On the inside of the flap attach a wooden dowel (I used a paintbrush handle) Poke a hole in ther cardboard on either side of the dowel. Then thread the string through from the outside of the flap, over the dowel and back through the other side. This will make the string attachment much stronger and keep it from ripping through the cardboard. Finally, close the 'butt flap,' using hot glue to seal it up. Use masking tape and paint to finish the job.
Step 16: Add Red Plastic to the Eyes
The glowing compound eyes really make this spider look awesome. Cut a piece of red plastic to roughly 17cm by 12cm for the eyes. I was able to successfully use hot glue to attach the plastic to the inside of the head box behind the eye cutouts, but afterwards I realized that it would have been much easier to use some strong double sided tape! Make sure the you cut the plastic wide enough so that it wraps around the corner inside the box as the some of the eye holes are cut quite close to the edge.
Add your led light to the inside the head and see how it looks. If you need to, you can adjust the position and tape or glue the light inside.
Step 17: Finished in Time for Halloween!
I finished the spider just in time for Halloween trick-or-treating so after I added the light I sealed up the head with black masking tape. I am sure there is a much more elegant solution! I am thinking about modifying the closure to allow for repeat access and also using a string of led lights and mounting the battery pack so the on off switch is accessible.
I am also adding two more hanging points - one just in front of the legs and another just behind the legs. These will loop around the central support 'spine' which will provide much sturdier hanging support.
This was such a fun project to make and I learned loads about cardboard construction! My daughter got her very own "porch spider" to complement her costume, and lots of Minecraft fans out trick-or-treating got a kick out it!